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Drinking water online will replace the old WINZ system.

When the local water management agency closes your favorite beach due to unhealthy water quality, how reliable are the tests they base their decisions on? As it turns out, those tests, as well as the standards behind them, have not been updated in decades. Now scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a highly accurate, DNA-based method to detect and distinguish sources of microbial contamination in water.

The construction of a 8000m3 reservoir is will under way for the Matamata-Piako District council

for the storage of treated water for Morrinsville

Mystery surrounds the "bizarre" dumping of clothes into the wastewater network at Mapua, near Nelson.

Mystery surrounds the "bizarre" dumping of clothes into the wastewater network at Mapua, near Nelson.

Tasman District Council staff are scratching their heads over how and why adult shirts, jeans and underwear, along with towels and rags have been deposited into the system on multiple occasions.

Executive Officer

Kia Ora WIOG members

You may have heard on the grapevine that our much esteemed colleague and Executive Officer, John Clemens is retiring from the role at the end of this year’s conference.

I am sure you will agree that they are some very big shoes to fill as John has been an exemplary WIOG Officer, whose passion is only matched by his ability. However, John did give the committee notice of his decision before Christmas so we could begin the process of finding a suitable replacement.

This was a massive task and your committee have worked amazingly hard to make sure we explored every available option.

I now have the immense pleasure to introduce our new Executive Officer – Mr Craig Hiddleston.

It is with regret that we post this item. Lester was well known to many of us and we extend our sympathies to his family.

Missing New Zealand Man Confirmed Dead in Possible Drowning Posted By Linda Stansberry @lcstansberry on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 12:57 PM

The Humboldt County Coroner's Office has confirmed that a body found near the Mad River Boat Ramp at 9:20 a.m. today was that of Lester Abbey, who went missing yesterday after leaving for an evening jog. Abbey's body was retrieved by a Coast Guard Helicopter. The New Zealand man was visiting family in McKinleyville, and his former sister-in-law stated on social media that when he left to run the Hammond Trail at 4:30 p.m., his plan was to jog to the beach, then jump in the Mad River and swim back to his parents' home by Knox Cove. Abbey was fit for his 63 years. The website for his company, Abbey Systems, describes him as an avid cyclist and when his family initially raised the alarm about his disappearance they said he was in "good physical shape." 

Wellington news

A new reservoir opens in Melrose, it's as big as an Olympic pool and comes with a $3.5m price tag

All it takes is the turn of a tap to have water flowing in Wellington homes.

But a closer look at the city's newest reservoir reveals the turning of that tap is really the last stage of a complicated process. 

The new 2.2 million litre tank has been built underground on top of Mt Albert, in the suburb of Melrose. It replaces a reservoir built on the hill in 1910 and holds two and half times what its predecessor could.

To see the rest of this story click here


Wellington news

The lid comes off the sewage well with a "poof" of putrid gas and a flourish of flies.

"This really is the high point," City Care utilities operation manager Blair Dynan, who is wearing wraparound sunglasses and a toothy grin, says.

Wet wipes and fat clog Wellington sewerage system

story click here

The Marlborough District Council has identified a significant number of leaks across the Renwick water network with the help of specialist leak inspection equipment.

The inspection took place as part of an annual program and identified at least 30 leak points in the council network and a further 17 leak points on private property, wasting an estimate of 207 litres per minute and 30-40 litres per minute, respectively.

This represents an average loss of approximately 15 per cent of Renwick’s daily water consumption.

The most significant leak was found near the corner of Vorbach and Brydon Street, where approximately 30 litres and minutes was being lost.

Stephen Rooney, Marlborough District Council’s Operations and Maintenance Engineer, said “It’s a significant waste of water given that Renwick, at this time of year, is taking 1,390 litres per minute from the treatment plant.”

He went on to acknowledge network as an explanatory factor for the leaks.

“Given that Renwick’s water supply network was installed in 1974 with an expected lifespan of 60 to 70 years, the level of corrosion is as expected and a similar level of leakage was detected during last year’s inspections.”

Mr Rooney expects that water supply network will continue to be managed by routine maintenance until it becomes uneconomic to repair in three or four decades.

The council will be repairing all significant leaks over the coming weeks. For further information visit the Marlborough District Council website.


Peter Brownie has retired, bringing an end to a stellar career in water treatment after 45 years in the industry.

During his time Peter has been a leader in improving Dunedin’s water quality through upgrading water treatment plants and pipelines for the benefit of the city’s residents and visitors. Starting out with the Dunedin City Council (DCC) after working for the Ministry of Work, as it was then known, Peter began his career in local government as a soil tester in 1970 before moving to Senior Operator in 1980 and being promoted to Water Treatment Overseer in 1995, which is now titled Water Treatment Supervisor.

During his tenure he achieved a “C”  Water Treatment Certificate in 1975, a “B” Water Treatment Certificate in 1978 and an “A” Water Treatment Certificate in 1996.

When these qualifi cations were replaced by NZQA based ones he upgraded to the National Diploma in Water Treatment in 2005.

He was part of the Treatment Technology investigation world tour team, who travelled to research water treatment technology. Their findings fed into Dunedin’s 1992-93 Water Supply Upgrade Strategy and Peter played a key role in putting together the strategy as well as seeing it implemented with an independently audited quality assurance system.  Peter has also significantly contributed to training operators, developing procedures and manuals for operators and has worked with the qualification authority to develop training programmes.

Peter has been involved with significant water treatment programmes over his career including the 1972 Deep Stream Water Supply Scheme Investigation and the commissioning of the 1977 Deep Stream pipeline and Mount Grand Treatment Plant. In 1989 with the Local Body Amalgamation he was part of the team overseeing the transfer of six treatment plants to the DCC with 11 plants altogether coming under the organisation’s authority.

In 2006 he oversaw the commissioning of the Mount Grand Raw Water Reservoir and the Southern Membrane Water Treatment Plant.“We built the plant on time, under budget and in working order. We had the foresight to build it to produce water at what we estimated the grading would be in ten years – we were spot on,” says Peter.

Peter was closely involved with the upgrading of the Waikouaiti Membrane Water Treatment Plant, the West Taieri Membrane Water Treatment Plant. He also developed the Pigeon Flat Chlorine Booster and was involved in the de-commissioning of the Booth, Ross and Wingatui water treatment plants. He also oversaw various upgrades to Port Chalmers Water Treatment Plant from 1976-2009 and from 1995 2009 he was in charge of upgrades to the five Mosgiel Treatment Plants and this year has been involved in the planning for the Outram upgrade to improve water quality.

Peter’s influence has not just been limited to Dunedin as he has also contributed to the country’s regulatory frameworks in transferring the old certifications of “C”, “B” and “A” to the National Certificates and Diplomas in Water Treatment and the setting up of the Water ITO. Peter was part of the Water ITO review team in 2007 that successfully implemented the first big review of these qualifications. Peter has been a strong advocate and supporter of WIOG since its inception. He ensured WIOG membership was available to all his water treatment operators. He has always been willing to send staff  to the National Conferences and Regional Workshops. He has hosted several of these workshops at the Southern Water Treatment Plant. Peter is also an active member of the Water Operations Professionals (WOP) registration committee and has been since its inception. This reflects his positive advocacy and support for a NZ Water Industry Operators registration scheme which evolved into WOP as a WIOG initiative. Peter’s experience and knowledge has been an asset not only to Dunedin, but also to New Zealand’s water treatment industry with his outward looking vision, his keenness to adopt innovative technologies and strong focus on staff  development. He leaves a legacy of improved water treatment operations and his colleague will miss his detailed and methodical thinking and the sense of humour he brought to whatever project he was working on.

“I enjoyed working with Peter for 31 years at the DCC and he always demonstrated professionalism and integrity while maintaining a healthy sense of dry humour. I attended his farewell function and I’m pleased he is wanting to continue his association with WIOG, WOP and qualifi cation reviews.” – Martyn Simpson

Dunedin's pipe dream had its ups and downs - ODT

It was transported by recalcitrant truck drivers and put together by hard men in the Great Depression to sate the thirst of a worried city. It is the Deep Creek pipeline, an engineering marvel that springs from a frozen fold in the earth. David Loughrey investigates.

The year 1935 was almost certainly a difficult year for the relationship between Mr Chas and Mr F. Brenssell.

History does not share with the modern day the familial ties binding this Depression-era pair.

Perhaps they were brothers - feuding, roughneck brothers who worked hard and played mean on the frozen hills that long winter.

Perhaps they were father and son; men of trucking yards and steel pipes, rivets, grit, tyres and mud.

They were trucking men, that is certain, and if they were father and son there were probably some blue words spoken between the two - very blue - over events 80 years ago.

The Brenssells pop up in the very well-kept records of our city infrastructure on July 24, 1935.

Chas Brenssell, of Outram, had a contract to truck the steel pipes for the Deep Creek pipeline, a development planned to bolster Dunedin's limited water supply.


click here for full story

"Any bites"

Wally, Russell and Tony monitor the recently completed new ponds at Timaru's newly upgraded waste water treatment plant.

Whoppa and Tim get a tour of Branxholme yesterday. Southland Times

Whoppa and Tim get a tour of Branxholme yesterday. 

Southland Times

While there was plenty of horsing around as 'Whoppa' Mackintosh delicately balanced the mayor's hat on his bushy locks and Shadbolt launched himself across the try-line, there was a serious side to the fun and games as Stags players swapped jobs with members of the community on Wednesday.

The event was part of the club's professional development programme, which is designed to get the players thinking about life after footy.

While Mackintosh didn't look out of place wearing the mayoral robes and holding court at the head of the council table, he said he didn't expect to be gunning for Shadbolt's job any time soon.

He accompanied Shadbolt on a tour of the city's water treatment plant and admitted being amazed at the behind-the-scenes work many in the city took for granted.

"Tim was teaching us about the foundations of the city - the water, the rubbish and the sewerage [operations] - and what a big job that is," Mackintosh said.

"It's a bit like our footy - the simple things are the most important. I've had an awesome day driving around and I've learned heaps."

Professional designation gives operators their due

Professional designation gives operators their due



WIOG thanks the American Water Works Association for permission to share this article.

Water operators play a key role in public health, but have had no industry-recognized, standardized, certification program.

Until now.

The first Professional Operators – POs – earned their certifications at two celebratory pinning ceremonies in recent months, including one at ACE15 last month in Anaheim. They passed an exam, agreed to a code of conduct and met education, training and on-the-job requirements.

“People working in the water industry often don’t get a lot of recognition,” said Gavin Moore, certification program administrator at the Association of Boards of Certification in Ankeny, Iowa, a certification commission for environmental professionals. “They are the unsung heroes. The public often doesn’t understand how critical they are in making society work the way it does.”

Doctors get their M.D., lawyers their J.D. Accountants have the CPA and engineers earn their P.E. The new operator designation, though not mandatory, includes rigorous standards, eligibility and recertification requirements and disciplinary procedures for POs who don’t measure up.

States have own requirements

Individual states have set their own certification requirements for water operators for many years. The first was New Jersey, back in 1918. These standards vary greatly in rigor and requirement, and prevent operators from being recognized as a professional workforce.

“The new PO designation doesn’t replace state requirements, but sets unified standards that give confidence to the public when operators work outside their jurisdictions,” said Megan Baker, ABC’s director of operations.

Nowhere was this need more apparent than during Hurricane Katrina, when operators from across the country descended on New Orleans to lend a hand. Many of the operators spent days in hotel rooms waiting futilely because the state of Louisiana did not recognize their credentials.

Operators have confidence in co-workers

Another plus to a unified standard is that utility managers better understand an operator’s background during hiring, said Paul Bishop, ABC’s chief executive officer. Also, operators have confidence in the capabilities and conduct of the person working alongside them.

“The PO provides one standard that is ready to handle the challenges of tomorrow,” Bishop said.

To date, 40 water operators have achieved their POs. At the first pinning ceremony last September in New Orleans, the new POs cited professional recognition and greater credibility in the public’s eyes as the main benefits of their new status. Most of the first POs are from the United States, but many inquiries have come in from other countries, including India, Baker said. One new PO is from the Philippines, where he works for a company that does a lot of contract work on U.S. military bases.

The first POs include 35 men and five women, which reflects the gender makeup of the profession, Baker said.

Another 215 water operators are working toward their certification and at least 100 are expected to earn their PO designation by the end of this year, Baker said. They can get their certification in water treatment, wastewater treatment, wastewater collection or water distribution.

New POs pinned at ACE

At the last pinning ceremony at ACE15, eight water operators from across the United States were pinned. One of those was Luis Cuellar, water treatment operator in the Alameda County Water District in California.

“It was quite a special day,” Cuellar said later.

Alan Cranford, water plant manager at the Murfreesboro Water and Sewer Department in Murfreesboro, Tenn., agreed. Cranford gave a touching speech in which he said he started working in water at the age of 7. His dad managed the water and sewer system in their small Alabama town and Cranford helped by mowing grass, pulling weeds out of fences and picking up garbage around the well sites, lift stations and wastewater treatment plant.

“You might think I was crazy,” but I loved what I did, Cranford told the crowd, which included then-AWWA President John Donahue and CEO David LaFrance.

By the time he was 13, Cranford knew he wanted a future in water. But instead, he tried many different career paths, eventually making it back into the industry reading water meters.

“We’ve gone from color wheels to spectrophotometers, GCs, TOC analyzers, online instruments and from strip charts and consoles to SCADA systems, and a bunch of other advances where operators have to have a much wider range of knowledge, skills and abilities to do their job right and to do it well,” Cranford said.

That’s why, he said, the time is now for the professional operator.

The POs are putting their new designation on their business cards, LinkedIn pages, resumes and professional correspondence, Moore said.

“I can stand tall and proud for the service I provide to the community,” Cuellar said. “I don’t feel I have to be recognized for what I do, but I think this new designation will bring our profession much greater attention and even encourage someone to say, ‘I want to be an operator when I grow up.’”


New Committee Member — Tony Ochsner

Tony started in the water industry at Palmerston North in 2001 at the Turitea Water Treatment Plant. He now works at Wellington Water, where he is an Operations Technician based in the operations team.

Tony has been involved with WIOG since its inception and has always been an active member. The committee is very happy to have him onboard.

Tony has taken on the role of producing the Kiwi Clarifier so any news and stories to Tony.

Kelvin Wells 1943 - 2015

One of our fellow ex-water treatment operators in New Zealand recently passed away after a long illness.

Kelvin Wells was a great contributor to the water industry, teaching many operators the trade of water treatment. Before becoming a operator Kel was a plumber in Dargaville. He moved to Morrinsville in 1982 to be with other family members. He was employed with the Morrinsville Borough Council looking after the local swimming pool before becoming a water treatment operator.

Kel then moved on to Hamilton City Council Water Treatment Plant in 1990 and later retired. He was truly one of the characters working in the water industry and he always had stories to tell (some bigger than others).He was brave, humble, inspirational and tough.

“R.I.P. Kel”

Arch Murray

Arch Murray


After many years working in the water industry Arch has decided it is time to take it easy and enjoy retirement.

Arch was born in 1945 in Queenstown. He attended primary school in a tiny Southland township of Redan. He then went to Southland Technical College in Invercargill. His first job was as an apprentice fitter & turner with Wilson brothers in Invercargill.

He did his national service at Burnham and Waiouru before heading off to sea as an engineering officer on merchant ships travelling to many places worldwide. He left the sea in 1969, met his lovely partner Chrissie and within three days had asked her to marry him and moved to be close to her in Christchurch, where nine months later they were wed.

Arch started in the industry working for Homershams, then Deeco Services. He has always been a passionate advocate for the Operators groups beginning with the Otago Southland Operators group in the 1980’s, then Canterbury Westland Operators Group, Water NZ, and finally WIOG. He has been a familiar face at many operators conferences over the years and was a founding member of WIOG. One of his proudest moments was being inducted as an “IDIOT” in 2009.

One of the biggest changes Arch has noted in the industry is the gigantic monster that Health & Safety has become where its more about covering butt, producing mountains of paper, and cost cutting rather than actually making workplaces safer for the actual guys on the ground. Also how political correctness has got totally out of hand.

Outside work Arch is an avid stamp collector with a huge collection. He is also an Otago Highlanders and Southland Stag supporter. While retiring Arch is still keen to remain active in the industry and pass on the knowledge that he has accumulated over the many years of operations. He will still be an active member of WIOG and many of you were able to catch up with him in May at the conference in Blenheim. We wish Arch well for the future.

PS A wee bird has just told us that Arch’s retirement has been short lived and he is doing some time filling in at Waimakariri DC!

40 year anniversary.

Congratulations to Russell Dean who, last month, clocked up 40 years service with Manawatu District Council.

Russell has operated Feilding’s wastewater treatment plant since it was first built under the Feilding Borough Council.

Over his years he has developed a wealth of knowledge which he is always happy to share with colleagues. He can recount many upgrades and milestones,  first with the Borough Council and now with the District Council. Numerous CEOs and colleagues have come and gone over the years and there have been restructures, but Russell is still a major part of the team

.Russell is a man with tremendous dedication and utmost passion for his work and he is not showing any signs yet of stopping working any time soon.

Russell’s other passion is tennis – but being the humble man he is, he won’t admit how much of an expert he is.Congratulations Russell!

Final cog in wastewater revamp ready to roll in North New Brighton

The $10 million Ascot Reserve pumping station in North New Brighton will soon service 18,000 properties in northeast Christchurch.

It's a concept residents in Christchurch's eastern suburbs have become sadly familiar with since the earthquakes: pushing the proverbial uphill.

And now there is a $10 million wastewater plant in one of their quake-hit neighbourhoods equipped to achieve just that.

Next week, Pump Station 128, ,on the defunct Ascot Golf Course in North New Brighton, should be transferring 625 litres of sewerage per second. 

More than $1m - and six months - was spent stabilising the ground before construction began in September 2012. The Christchurch City Council and constructor Fulton Hogan are confident it will withstand future seismic activity.

The Ascot Reserve station is the last major pump station to be completed in the city and will link with the rebuilt $15m facility on Pages Rd.

Overall, 53 pump stations have been repaired or rebuilt by Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team since late 2011.

It also built a new $18m station in Wigram last year to cope with burgeoning housing developments in the city's southwest.

The stations at Ascot and Pages Rd are intended to reduce overflows of wastewater into the Avon River.

Ascot features an emergency generator, odour control biofilter units, three pumps with a similar output to a V8 engine and, appropriately, a toilet.

It will service 18,000 properties in northeast Christchurch, propelling sewerage, plus kitchen and laundry wastewater, on an upward trajectory through a new pressurised pipeline to the Bromley Wastewater Treatment Plant. 

Christchurch's sewerage network originally relied on gravity and a network of pump and lift stations to transfer waste.

Council water and waste network operations engineer Karn Snyder-Bishop said the gravity system would remain in some areas but its pipes were difficult to repair so the pressurised system, or a vacuum option, are now installed where possible. "[After the earthquakes] we had a lot of reversing pipes where the flow was going ... the opposite way."

The pressurised pump system could be laid half a metre under the surface so was easier to access, Snyder-Bishop said. Its rubberised pipes were also virtually indestructible.

"If it does buckle it's like bending a straw. It seals off but it doesn't actually break." Although the sewerage system was turning state of the art, it still dealt with age-old obstacles.Tampons, condoms, sanitary pads, toys, crayons, even a fur coat - presumably dumped down a manhole cover - can all be costly for the council to unclog when you spend a penny. "There's a lot of underwear, clothes," Snyder-Bishop said. "A lot of the baby wipes that claim to be flushable cause trouble."

The Christchurch Press

Les Collins lifts the lid on a wet well chamber at the new Ascot Reserve pumping station on Beach Rd in North New Brighton





On The Move - Rob Blakemore

Rob has recently left Opus to take up an opportunity at Wellington Water as Chief Advisor, Asset Management. We wish Rob all the best in his new position and also reflect on the massive contribution he put into helping in the development of training qualifications in the Water/Wastewater Industry.  Here is a bit of background on how it all came about:  In around 1996/97 the New Zealand water utilities expressed joint concern about the lack of consistent skills in the NZ water industry. They joined together to review skill gaps and skill needs. This was done under the direction of the NZ water supply and Drainage Managers group. Rob led this project. There was concern about the ageing population of the workforce, poor construction standards, and the capability to adapt to new technology. In addition downsizing of utilities and contracting out to other providers all added to the need to lift capability.   As an outcome a decision was made that an industry training organisation was needed to be responsible for the development and administration of the implementation of qualifications across the entire water industry. This included water, wastewater and stormwater treatment and reticulation. At this point Opus realised that the Opus Environmental Training Centre (ETC) was a potential important contributor as a provider and Rob Blakemore joined the centre in 1998.  A host ITO was found and qualification development proceeded. Rob and ETC staff at that time worked with the ITO to develop qualifications – to define competencies for different qualification levels, and then to develop resources. Treatment qualifications were first addressed because the existing A, B and C qualifications were assumed to be easy to adopt. In fact it was realised quickly that the biggest need was for reticulation where workers skills were not supported with any qualification. Often the skills were learned on the job and often poorly or inconsistently taught. Sometimes plumbing or drainlaying qualifications were specified but were totally inappropriate for work outside the boundary. Qualifications for maintenance staff and supervisors were developed in cooperation with the industry. The first reticulation qualifications were offered approximately around 2002. An important part of the qualification development was teaching people why they did their job as well as how. So in effect this gave rise to the need for classroom based training and field assessment of how work is done. Over time the qualifications were streamlined to the point that the competencies required are now addressing industry need. ETC staff were utilised throughout the country to teach and assess competencies of staff employed by contractors and water utilities. Qualifications were specified as a requirement within contract specifications for maintenance and construction.  ETC has provided this training to many thousands of employees.  Throughout this period Rob provided leadership and influence to his team as well as the Water and Wastewater Industry.

Our thanks to NZWETA for allowing us to copy this story from their latest newsletter.



Continuing the sludge bug of the month series which has been appearing in the clarifier. Now click on the link to read the latest bug "Microthrix parvicella" a  filament notorious for foaming.

Our thanks to Mott MacDonald for continuing the series.

Timaru's wastewater upgrade

Timaru's wastewater upgrade

Steve Adair

Steve Adair

With the end of civil operations by Delta ending Steve's almost 10 years of service in Alexandra, he has had to look at the challenge of creating a new direction for himself. He has accomplished this by setting up his own company specialising in various operational monitoring and quality systems. I am sure Steve will be more than happy to enlighten you further by calling him on

0274 360 781

or email

John Beale

John Beale

Very good news with John Beale, winner of the best operators paper at the WIOG conference in Taupo being featured in an article in the latest Water NZ magazine. Well done John.

Good News

Good News

After winning Young Operator of the Year at this years WIOG conference in Taupo, Ryan Laurenson has again hit the news with an excellent write up in the Infrastructure News.

For a copy click on the PDF link

The Water Knight retires

The Water Knight retires

Well actually,  how Nick Knight described this monumentous occasion in an email was that "he had been consigned to history"

The operator of the Invercargill water treatment plant at Branxholme, retired on Monday the 30th June after 35 years at the plant as operator, and over 40 years as a council employee. A number of his work associates, friends, and family attended a function at Branxholme to recall some of the more memorable events over that time, and to wish him well for the future, or as Nick put it to make sure he actually did leave.

Nick has been the WIOG Operator of the Year, and has also won the best operators paper.

Nick has a vast knowledge of water treatment, is an excellent trainer and mentor to young operators, and hopefully the water industry will make use of those assetts in the future.

WIOG wish him and his wife Vi all the best for the next chapter in their life.



We welcome back Owen Braybrook who has seen the light and migrated back from Australia. Many members will remember Owen from his attendance at many operators conferences in the 80's up to the early 2000's, and his role as rep for what was then BIOLAB in the South Island. Owen has taken on the role of Sales Specialist Environmental for ThermoFisher Scientific and is now based in Christchurch.


Owen has been an active member of WIOA in Australia and has been inducted as an IDIOT. We now welcome Owen into the New Zealand branch of IDIOTs.

Mike Schaab (Jethro) recently retired after 33 years water treatment Timaru

Mike Schaab (Jethro) recently retired after 33 years water treatment Timaru

Mike has been involved with the operator groups from the early days of Twizel in the 80's and last year starred at the WIOG conference as the premier stand up comic. He has also had a talent as a ruthless fundraising Sherriff at a number of WIOG conferences. We wish Mike all the best for the future.

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